Thracians

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Thracian tribes and towns

Thracian hydronyms

Pre-history Thrace (2,500 BC)

The history of the Thracians started in the early Bronze Age when archaeology shows there was a change in culture due to peoples moving in from the Steppe lands to the east. These peoples entered lands which already had more than 3000 years of civilisation; sturdy square houses, towns, art, copper technology.

See also: Balkan history map: Early Bronze age, 2500 BC

Persian invasions (6th - 5th centuries BC)

Around 513 BC the Persian leader Darius invaded Thrace in preparation for a war with the Greeks. The Thracians did not resist the Persians they knew Darius' intension was to attack the Greeks. The Getae did offer some resistance, but without success.

Around 490-479 BC Xerxes set out to fight the Greeks. When passing through Thrace the Thracians knew that Xerxes's primary goal was to destroy the powerful city of Athens, far to the south, and so they offered no resistance to the Persian army.

Thracian Kingdom Odrysae (5th - 4th centuries BC)

After the Persian Wars, in 480-460 BC the first powerful Thracian state, the Kingdom of the Odrysae, was founded by King Teres. He united several of the Thracian tribes under his rule into a kingdom that covered eastern Thrace and north to the Danube.

Sitalkes (455-424 BC) succeeded Teres. Herodotus mentions "Teres, the father of Sitalces". Sitalkes united further Thracian tribes such as the Thyni, the Asti, the Nipsaii and the kingdom extended from the river Struma to the Black Sea and from the Aegean to the Danube.  In 431 BC Sitalkes allied with the Athenians and in the late autumn of 429 BC, in response to an Athenian request for help, attacked Macedonia with 150,000 warriors. After thirty days the campaign ended following advice from the second in command, Seuthes. Sitalkes was killed in a battle with the Triballi, a powerful tribe in northwest Thrace that were not part of his kingdom.

Seuthes (424 - 415 BC) succeeded Sitalkes, but Seuthes was unable to keep the empire intact and Athens encouraged rival Odrysian princes to fight one another so that the Athenians could retain control of the coastal cities, however the kingdom of the Odrysae enjoyed a period of prosperity. After Seuthes' death the Odrysian kingdom was divided into three parts, ruled by Amadokos, Maides and Euryzelmes I.

Kotys I (384-359 BC) was initially in alliance with the Athenians however he later dissolved this alliance and took control of the Thracian Chersonese and the Athenian naval base of Sestos. After his assassination he was succeeded by his son, Kersobleptes (359-341 BC) but in order to curb Kersobleptes power the Athenians supported his brothers, Bresides and Amadokos, and forced the kingdom to be shared.

Macedonian incursions (4th century BC)

Kersobleptes assisted Philip II to capture Amphipolis, then became an ally of the Athenians, but was later subjugated by the Macedonians and Philip gradually captured all the major cities of Thrace, including Avdera and Pulpudeva which he renamed Philippopolis. Philip's expansion was halted by a heavy defeat by the the Triballi. Alexander later succeeded in conquering the Triballi, but during his expedition into Asia, Seuthes III, King of the Odrysians, took control of Thrace.

Thrace under the rule of Lysimachus of Macedonia (4th century BC)

After the death of Alexander, Lysimachos (313-281 BC) assumed the administration of Thrace and in 313 BC Macedonian authority was re-established by Lysimachus.  In 309 BC he built a new capital, Lysimacheia, and in 306 BC declared himself King of Thrace. Further victories increased his lands; victory at Ipsos took areas of Asia Minor, war against Demetrios and Pytrhos added Macedonia and part of Thessaly. Lysimachos was killed at the battle of Koros in 281 BC and was succeeded by the Ptolemy Keraunos.

Celtic invasions (3rd century BC)

The Celtic peoples (associated with the La Tene culture) of central Europe began incursions into Macedonia and Thrace in 280 BC and succeeded in creating a state in Thrace in 273 BC with the capital at Thylis. The Celts continued to cross into Asia Minor, settling in the central part between Phrygia and Blythia, and founding Galatia with the capital at Ankara.

Thrace and the Romans (2nd BC to 1st AD)

Kotys II (180-? BC) was King of the Odrysae and allied with Perseas of Macedonia against the Romans. After the Perseas defeat at the battle of Pydna (168 BC) Kotys made a truce with the Romans and acknowledged their sovereignty. Thrace was not a Roman province, but all its kings (Kotys III, Raiskouporis I, Raskos, Roimetalkes I and Raiskouporis II) were their vassals.

In a revolt of the Bessi, led by the priest at the Oracle of Dionysos, Raiskouporis II was killed.  Roimetalkes I (7 BC-12 AD) became king of all Thrace with the assistance of the Romans. After the death of Kotys IV (12-19 AD) the Romans divided Thrace between Raiskoupores III and Kotys V.

Roman province (1st AD)

Roimetalkes III (38-46 AD) was given the position by the the Roman Emperor (Caligula), but was to be last King of Thrace. In AD 46 the Romans dissolved the Thracian state and declared Thrace a Roman province. The Triballi continued to cause trouble to the Roman governors of Macedonia and many rebellions against the Roman empire broke out in Thrace.

References

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